Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, a state-owned company, plans to start metal production with Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) and a Chinese company on concessions taken from Anglo American Platinum Limited  and Impala Platinum Holdings Limited.

A venture with ENRC, controlled by businessmen from Kazakhstan and the country’s government,  is due to start producing platinum in the first quarter of next year. An exploration report from an alliance with the Chinese company, previously identified as Norinco International Cooperation Limited, is due by year-end.

“Everything is on course for the venture with ENRC  to start production in Zimbabwe by April, said Jerry Ndlovu, managing director of the state-owned Zimbabwean company, said in an interview here with Bloomberg News. ENRC declined to comment when called.

Zimbabwe, which has the world’s biggest resources of platinum after South Africa, is trying to expand its mining industry to help the country recover from a decade of economic contraction between 2000 and 2009. Failed land reform programmes slashed production of tobacco and roses, increasing the country’s reliance on metal.

The country will produce about 365,000 ounces of platinum as well as metals found in the ore alongside the metal this year from mines owned by Anglo American Platinum, Impala Platinum and Aquarius Platinum Limited, according to the country’s’ Chamber of Mines. Those companies, the rest of whose assets are in South Africa, are the only producers of the metal in Zimbabwe.

Mining companies operating in Zimbabwe are compelled by law to cede or sell control of their assets to the government or black local citizens.

ENRC holds 60 percent of Todal Mining Limited, which owns a 4,500-hectare concession near Shurugwi, 233km south-west of Harare, according to its last annual report. ZMDC owns the rest.

ENRC acquired the interest when it took over Central African Mining & Exploration Company,  known as Camec. Camec paid US$120 million in cash and shares to Zimbabwe for the stake in 2008, and agreed to lend the government of President Robert Mugabe a further US$100 million, it said in a statement at the time. The concessions were formerly held by Johannesburg-based Anglo American Platinum.

Source: Bloomberg News. For more information, click here.